Christmas in Itaewon

Christmas dinner in Itaewon! On the way there (especially in the subway), I saw so many people carrying cake boxes. It seems like it’s a thing here to get a cake for Christmas. I think that’s lovely. I felt as if I should buy a cake, too … but that would only end up with me eating the entire cake. So, no.

My friend and I arrived in Itaewon at around 5 pm, and walked around looking for a place. I don’t remember the name of the place, but the plates say Bliss. Google says Bar Bliss WAS a gay bar in Itaewon, and has been closed for years. I don’t know where I was. It was somewhere in the main restaurant area.

 

christmas 2014 salad

We were so hungry! This was one of the starter salads, with mozzarella balls and balsamic dressing.  So good.

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Pojangmacha at Yongsan Station

yongsan station

Ah, Yongsan Station.  In my first month in Korea, this place was why I was (falsely) convinced that the Seoul subway system was insanely complicated. (It’s not!) Seoul Line 1 could NOT get me past Yongsan Station, for some reason. Later, it turns out that I was on the rapid/express train. The all-stop train does all the stops. The rapid train only stops at a few stations, OBVIOUSLY.

 

yongsan pojangmacha

These red-and-white striped tents are right outside Yongsan Station.  These tents are called pojangmacha – they typically serve street food and soju/beer, but Yongsan Station also has a pojangmacha bar!

 

pojangmacha sign

Ah, nice signage.

 

yongsan pojangmacha decor

Here’s the pojangmacha I ended up eating at. The green box at the top contains a pen and blank pieces of paper, for you to write your message!

 

yongsan grill

Set A, for 15,000 won.  And with three beers, that brought the total to 27,000 won.

From left to right

1. The hollowed-out thing is garlic. Fully roasted and mild.

2. Large white thing is mushroom.

3. Small mushrooms wrapped in bacon

4. Little yellow things are ginkgo seeds, I think?

5. Squarish white = rice cakes

6. Grilled chicken

7. Grilled chicken and green peppers (cheong gochu?)

Depressing holidays

I don’t really know what Thanksgiving is. My family never celebrated it. To this day, I have never had a “real” Thanksgiving dinner … whatever that is.

It usually sucks to see and hear about everyone else having a great time together on Thanksgiving, though. I always volunteered to work. At the end of the day, I’d make myself a turkey sandwich or order a turkey burger, because why not?

Last year, I told myself I’d sleep through the entire day, and amazingly, I did. I slept at midnight and woke up at 7 pm. Gross as hell, but a success of sorts.

The fourth Thursday in November passes unnoticed in Korea! Thanksgiving — what’s that?? It’s a massive relief. I also heard that Christmas is more of a couples thing here … so that’s another relief.

I don’t know why, but I attempted to fix some sort of Thanksgiving-ish dinner anyway. This was rotisserie chicken, and three kinds of banchan: spicy anchovies, peanuts, and seaweed. A bird and sides!!

2014 tday

Asiana Airlines dinner

I chose fish instead of beef. Soggy battered fish, but on a plane, you can’t expect fried things to be crisp.

asiana dinner

The airline is amazing, though. Great staff. And suddenly — more legroom, and wider seats! Maybe I’ve just been too institutionalized by US-based airlines.

Doritos Bomb

Aha, what’s this?

doritos-bomb

 

A new flavor! Probably specific to Korea, because:

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Spice level threat:

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Some of the chips:

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I liked them. They smelled strongly of jalapeños, tasted like strong wasabi. Clear-your-sinuses wasabi.

After a few chips, they started tasting like delicious, melted brown butter. I thought I’d only eat a chip or two, then put it away. (I ate the whole bag.)

Kimbap from 7-11

Here is buldak bokkeumbap (bul = fire, dak = chicken, bokkeumbap = fried rice).

kimbap

But I’m pretty sure it looked and tasted like tuna/mayonnaise.

kimbap-inside2

Patbingsu and barbecue chicken

I decided to try store-bought patbingsu. I have yet to try the fresh stuff, but I’ll get around to that soon enough, I’m sure. Summer days are pretty humid here. Iced ANYTHING is great.

Ice creams are ridiculously cheap. The shop near me sells popsicles (both juices and ice cream) for 250 won, and cones for 950 won. Patbingsu was 750 won, even though it was listed as 950. AND the retail price on the package says 2000 won.

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The spoon is hidden under the lid.

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Peel back the top, and there’s this frozen thing. I ran it through the microwave for 20 seconds.

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And then crushed it up with that tiny spoon! It was pretty basic: milky ice, four (count ’em!) pieces of sweet rice cakes, and red beans. You can add all sorts of other things, of course: sprinkles, fruit, chocolate, Pepero, jelly candies …

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I also found a cheap(ish) rotisserie chicken near my apartment. It’s a family-run hole in the wall, closed on Sundays! 8000 won for a “barbecue” chicken … as opposed to an order of fried chicken pretty much anywhere else for 16,000 won. For me, barbecue chicken means grilled and slathered with barbecue sauce. But when you think of it, rotisserie chicken = barbecue chicken …?

The cavity was stuffed with a couple of garlic cloves, and glutinous rice. AWESOME! It comes with the usual complimentary radish pickles. And sauces: sweet mustard sauce, a mix of salt and pepper, and a horseradish/soy sauce mix.

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The all-day brunch spot

Around 6 pm, I met up at an Arts Center dessert cafe/all-day brunch spot, with my two friends. Sandwiches, smoothies, and pancakes!

I ordered the “Forbidden Fruit” drink, whatever that was. It was yellow and tasted fruity. (Yeah… I don’t have a future as a food critic.)

These were some of the cakes, which we didn’t allow ourselves to have. :)

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Shoes on sale at Red Eye, an accessories store:

shoes